Newcastle United look to have been blessed with a decent set of opening fixtures.

With nine matches now behind them, Rafa’s team have only played one of the current top eight in the Premier League.

Those trying to knock the United manager’s early achievements/form, claim that only once the stagger unwinds, and Newcastle face some of the tougher fixtures, will you see a true picture.

In comparison, Everton have faced six of the current top eight in their opening nine matches, though Newcastle fans won’t be losing any sleep over the struggles at Goodison Park.

The 10 opponents Newcastle are still yet to face, see them up against top eight sides Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Watford, and Burnley, as well as high spending but so far disappointing Leicester and Everton.

The two opposition clubs yet to be faced, that maybe look the easiest on paper, are Bournemouth and West Brom.

The big positive so far this season though, is that Rafa Benitez looks able to set up a team that can give anybody a game, with his reliance on a solid defence (only three clubs have conceded less) and then counter-attacking.

The one fixture so far against one of the current top eight was against Tottenham and in that match the team looked really comfortable, until Jonjo Shelvey’s moment of madness.

In fact, the struggles against rock bottom Crystal Palace on Saturday maybe sum up this emerging new look Premier League.

There are no real mug teams and other than Manchester City, no proper top quality ones either.

Last season you had 8th and 17th positions only split by six points, leading to an obvious conclusion that there is little between much of the division.

Last season they had the benefit of some real rubbish teams in Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull to provide the relegation fodder.

None of those clubs are in the current Championship top 12 and of course Sunderland only have one win from 13 games so far, as they attempt to instantly exit the second tier from the wrong/right end – depending on your perspective.

Newcastle’s other two defeats have come against the promoted pair who maybe most neutrals would have seen as United’s easiest fixtures – but net spends of over £40m for both in the summer, compared to only £11.5m for Newcastle, have helped both Huddersfield and Brighton to look no mugs, especially with the pair appearing to have decent managers.

Burnley away and Bournemouth home are up next for Rafa Benitez, another four points from those would give Newcastle a nice look of 18 points from 11 games, before then facing Manchester United at Old Trafford.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how Rafa’s team can do at Old Trafford and whether his team can surprise opposition who no doubt will be thinking of three points.

It is great having a team who can at last compete in every game, though of course we don’t always expect to win.

  • Paul Patterson

    We have a good run of home games and some not as difficult away games coming up, with only Man U and Chelsea away that worry me. Those games we aren’t expected to get anything anyway so we just need to keep plucking away and average out the point the way we are currently and we’ll be fine.

  • steve pearce

    Unfortunately both Chelsea and Man City come before the transfer window opens so we won’t have a quality striker. However with our defensive organisation if we deny those overpaid prima donnas goal scoring opportunities they’ll spit the dummy out and as they never bother defending because every other team that plays them gets paggered we should grab a few goals – I’d settle for two points from these games but wouldn’t turn down three at least,,,,

  • Soldier

    the true picture doesn`t appear until we`ve played everyone which i think will be after Boxing day. i can`t see us beating any of the top 4. best bets to park the bus against them and hope for a point

    • TheNutJob

      Jose loves Newcastle parking the bus, whilst the cows chew the cud in his half, ha ha

  • uncle dave

    Given we have reached the heady heights of 7th, are you really suggesting we play with ourselves?????

  • Lord

    I’d argue that it’s only our result against Liverpool that has kept them out of the top 6 and so we’ve played two ‘big ones’.

    Regardless, against Spurs and Liverpool we’ve shown that we are unlikely to get turned over with embarrassing capitulations against the big sides – You always felt that under Pardew or McClaren we could be on for a 6-0 thumping – even at home – but now we seem capable of grinding out a point against any team. Might watch through my fingers for the Man City match, mind.

    • TheNutJob

      I`ll be behind the sofa for that one

  • ghostrider

    With Rafa paying attention to detail against ALL teams, it gives us a better than average chance of upsetting the odds against the so called elite.
    The thing is it’s all about the desire and effort and attention to a gameplan that will ultimately gain us some spoils.
    However, we all know that we will lose our fair share and not just to the top teams.

    It doesn’t really matter if we’d played the top usual 8 from the off because none of the games are easy games until they become easier than thought on the day/night, due to circumstances, which works vice/versa of course.

    All teams can be beat on any given day.

  • Wor Monga

    That’s not quite a true picture seeing as we’ve played Liverpool as well as Tottenham at SJP…Liverpool may not be in the top 8 at the moment, but they have to be classed as one with their quality, and the fact that they can attack any of the other PL teams away from home…but we managed credibly well against both of those clubs, up here, and we could have done better if we’d finished the Spurs game with 11 men on the field…

    …I’d argue we can give any of the current top 8 a good game up here more than likely losing against Man C, but there’s always the possibly of winning against Burnley and Watford…Chelsea and Man U never find it easy up here and there might be at least a point or two going for us there (like Huddersfield, and Palace)…

    …you can take it for granted that we’ll almost certainly lose away against the Manchester teams, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool, but there are also another 10 clubs in the league, and the aim must to be to get at least another 27 points out of the remaining 27 games…

    …not counting Arsenal or any of the present top 8 we have 8 home games left against teams outside of the top group, and we must make that count even though just like Palace who are already in a relegation battle they will all come looking to take at least a point…

    …it will be tight, but we’ve already seen that this set of lads has the right attitude even at this stage of the season to fight for anything they can get away from home so the 7 games we also have left, away against teams outside of the current top 8 clubs…might be where the battle will be won or lost…

    …let’s start it rolling this weekend with a canny result against Burnley lads!!!

  • Rich Lawson

    As the man says,lets just take each game as it comes.We have a solid team that looks to score on the breakaway and need fear no one at the moment.

  • Mayor Vaughn

    Not the top (Traditional) 6 teams we are competing with so not to worry.

  • Tony Mann

    The only team of which I am truly petrified is Man City – If we can keep the score respectable, I’ll be happy – I think we can give the rest a fight. Had we played Spurs 5 or 6 games in, instead of the opener, I believe we could have gotten something. TBH, prior to this season commencing, I thought we would be the whipping boys along with Brighton and Huddersfield. Just glad to be completely wrong.

  • 55degreesnorth

    What we need to focus on is the league within a league. At the start of the season we were targeting points against the teams in the bottom half of the league where we presumed we’d be. We’ve done well so far and remember all the lower teams will play the top 6 too. One game at a time should be the mantra.

  • Chris Stanton

    One and a half points per game (our record to date) from the teams below 8th gives us 36 points in the season, probably safe. Getting 4+ points from the other 14 games should be achievable.